Ball’s 34 TDs trail only Sanders’ 39
Wisconsin’s irrepressible junior tailback continued his record-setting season with another remarkable performance in UW’s 45-7 victory over Penn State on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Ball rushed 25 times for 156 yards and four touchdowns to push his season touchdown total to 34. That moved him past Brock Forsey of Boise State (32 touchdowns in 2002) and into the No. 2 spot in NCAA history.
Only Sanders, who scored 39 touchdowns en route to winning the 1988 Heisman Trophy, is ahead of Ball.
Sanders had 37 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in 12 games that season, which was before the NCAA began including bowl-game performances in season statistics.
Ball pushed his total for rushing touchdowns this season to 29, breaking the Big Ten record of 26, set in 1988 by Anthony Thompson of Indiana and tied in ‘94 by Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter.
He has at least two rushing touchdowns in all 12 games this season, which breaks Sanders’ record of 11 consecutive games with at least two rushing touchdowns.
Ball also has five receiving touchdowns and barring injury has two games left to match Sanders’ 39.
UW (10-2) faces Michigan State (10-2) at 7:17 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis in the Big Ten title game and win or lose the Badgers will be invited to a bowl game.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet,” said Ball, who pushed his season rushing total to 1,622 yards.
Ball recalls watching a handful of Sanders’ NFL games on TV.
“Just being mentioned (with him) is a great feeling,” Ball said. “I mean, it’s Barry Sanders.”
Senior wide receiver Nick Toon honored his father, former UW wide receiver Al Toon, by switching to uniform No. 87.
The idea was a team effort between Nick Toon and wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and a surprise for the father.
“It was a great honor to be able to do that and a cool way to go out,” said Nick, who finished with five receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Nick received a pleasant surprise before the game when quarterback Russell Wilson let his teammate walk out for the pregame coin toss with his father, who was UW’s guest captain.
“It was obviously very cool, thanks to Russell,” Nick said. “I don’t know of many other people who can say they’ve had a similar situation. It was very cool to have my dad here on my last game as a guest captain, and obviously the win makes it feel good.”
UW coach Bret Bielema says backup linebacker Ethan Armstrong has left the hospital but is expected to need surgery after injuring his hip Saturday.
Armstrong was hurt on a kickoff in the second quarter, and was taken off the field in an ambulance after spending several minutes down on the field. Bielema said Armstrong had an issue with his hip before Saturday’s game.
and was taken off by ambulance only as a precaution.
He was released from the hospital Saturday night.